#EduRead: Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

This week's article is Teaching Students to Ask their Own Questions. This week's submission is by the authors of Make Just One Change and as we all know, very small changes in our teaching practice can have huge impacts in student achievement. With the increased emphasis in education on "inquiry learning", I think this week's article will really push me as an educator to make small, but significant changes in my classroom.

  • Love this: "When you ask the question, you feel like it’s your job to get the answer, and you want to figure it out."
  • "When students know how to ask their own questions, they take greater ownership of their learning, deepen comprehension, and make new connections and discoveries on their own."
  • "The Question Formulation Technique (QLT) helps students learn how to produce their own questions, improve them, and strategize on how to use them."
  • "In the classroom, teachers have seen how the same process manages to develop students’ divergent (brainstorming), convergent (categorizing and prioritizing), and metacognitive (reflective) thinking abilities in a very short period of time." 
  • "Teachers can use the QFT at different points: to introduce students to a new unit, to assess students’ knowledge to see what they need to understand better, and even to conclude a unit to see how students can, with new knowledge, set a fresh learning agenda for themselves." 
  • "Teachers tell us that using the QFT consistently increases participation in group and peer learning processes, improves classroom management, and enhances their efforts to address inequities in education."
QFT Steps:
  1. Teachers Design a Question Focus (Not a question. A statement or visual/aural aid)
  2. Students Produce Questions (The four rules are: ask as many questions as you can; do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any of the questions; write down every question exactly as it was stated; and change any statements into questions. ) 
  3. Students Improve Their Questions (Categorize questions in open-ended and close-ended and practice converting between, realizing that phrasing affects depth. and quality.)
  4. Students Prioritize Their Questions (Teacher offers guidelines, students zero in and plan concrete action steps for getting information.)
  5. Students and Teacher Decide on Next Steps (Work together.)
  6. Students Reflect on What They've Learned (Making the QFT completely transparent helps students see what they have done and how it contributed to their thinking and learning. They can internalize the process and then apply it in many other settings.)
I love questioning so I really enjoyed this article. I can't really think of how this would apply to math. The article mentioned analyzing word problems, maybe they could guess what the question will ask before seeing it? Although that doesn't seem like a good use of the technique.

It seems like it would work well for projects and possibly the beginning of a unit. You would have to make sure to give enough guidelines that they would pick the questions your unit actually answers.

What do you think?

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